Found April 26, 2013 on Celtics Spot:
Down 2-0, Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics return home tonight to take on Carmelo Anthony's New York Knicks. So far this series the second half hasn't been too kind to the Celtics as they've managed to score just 48 combined points between each game's third and fourth quarters. While Boston has played really well in spurts, they've yet to put together a complete game in round one. It'll be up to both Pierce and Kevin Garnett to rally the troops and get this W.  Tonight's contest will be interesting to watch due to a few different factors. For one, it's an NBA playoff game between two fierce Eastern Conference rivals. Secondly, this is the first game being held at the TD Garden since before the Marathon bombings. You can bet the Garden will be filled with emotion and guys like KG will fuel off of that, possibly sparking a vintage performance. But perhaps most intriguing is the way Doc Rivers will handle his bench players tonight.  If you haven't heard yet, Rivers has officially dropped Courtney Lee from his rotation. "I'm not playing him right now. Honestly Jordan [Crawford] has moved in front of him on the depth chart," Doc told the Boston Globe. Rivers went on to justify his decision by saying, "For us our defense has been pretty good. The one thing Jordan does better is he can make a spot-up shot."  Pretty harsh words from the Cs' head coach but they're honestly warranted. Lee has been an above average defender all season long but his offensive game seems to be suffering jet-lag from his trip out of Houston and into Boston. In Game 1, Lee was the only reserve to put the ball in the hole but even then he only eked out a disappointing 4 points. If Doc believes that removing him from the rotation won't be detrimental to his defense then he should give extra minutes to Crawford. Sure, the newly acquired guard wasn't stellar in the series opener either but he remedied the terrible outing with a 10 point performance in Game 2. His decision making is questionable but Crawford remains a shot maker and an underrated passer.  Courtney Lee averaged 12 minutes per contest in the first two games while Crawford played 18 per. I imagine that without the presence of Lee, Crawford will see his floor time increase to around 23-25 minutes from here on out. At the same time, however, that begs the question of who gets the remainder of the playing time? Were I to guess, I would say that what's left of Lee's time will go to the bigs, Shavlik Randolph and Chris Wilcox. It would certainly makes sense seeing as KG's hip isn't quite right at the moment and if Garnett doesn't stay out of foul trouble (Game 2: 5 fouls, 24 minutes) then Randolph and Wilcox will be guaranteed more run. In addition to that, I don't really see Jason Terry getting any extra time because he's already averaging 27 MPG and he's been pretty bad through the first two contests. The veteran guard owns a line of 4.5/2.0/1.5 thus far, including a Game 1 outing that saw him fail to convert a single field goal attempt. Until Terry proves otherwise, he doesn't deserve any more than he's getting.  Considering how poor the Celtics' bench has been all year long it's going to come down to whether or not the starters can get it done. That's the only way I see them taking this series. Of course, Paul Pierce has been somewhat of his usual self scoring 19.5 PPG, grabbing 5.5 RPG, and dishing out 6.5 APG. Both Pierce's 19.5 points and 6.5 assists are good for the team lead. But besides Pierce, the only guy that I think has stepped up his game is Brandon Bass. Although he hasn't been scoring the ball very often, Bass has been a force on the boards. The LSU product is currently pulling down 10 misses a night which ties him with Garnett for the team lead.  Speaking of Garnett, the future hall of famer needs to find a way to stay on the court tonight. As I mentioned before, Ticket only played 24 minutes in Game 2 because of the amount of fouls he committed. Granted a majority of them were bad calls, what the refs say goes unfortunately. I have to hand it to Kevin though, he's still corralling 10 rebounds a night in a limited 30.5 minutes per. The only thing I would like to see improve is his scoring numbers. 10 PPG isn't going to cut it in this series. There isn't enough of a safety net for him to score a small amount of points. With Pierce tallying 19.5 and Jeff Green accounting for 18 per, KG needs to get his average to about 15.  Keys to the Game DEFENSE!!! The Celtics defense hasn't been too bad in round 1. The majority of their woes have come on the offensive end so it's important they maintain their strong play on the other side of the floor. As a team, their 4 steals per game account for one-third of New York's turnovers. Oh yeah and STOP MELO! Rebound... MORE!!! I know, I know. I gave both Bass and Garnett praise for their efforts on the glass but it's not them I'm worried about. Jeff Green needs to get his hands dirty down low when a shot goes up. Green is 6'9 and he's only getting 4 rebounds a night. To me, that's unacceptable but it can be fixed. Surprisingly, the Knicks are only getting to 2.5 more misses than the Celtics each night. A couple more boards here and there for Green and the Cs could find themselves out-rebounding an opponent for once. That would certainly help the team's cause.  Take Care of the Ball!!! This stat makes me sick. Boston is currently turning the ball over 16.5 times per. They've responded by "racking up" 16 assists per game and having a negative assist to turnover ratio is lethal, especially in the playoffs. Rivers knows this better than anyone else and Pierce and Garnett also know better. This somewhat goes with rebounding, the more times the Knicks have the ball on offense, the more opportunities Carmelo Anthony will have to score. If we have the ball, Melo can't score. It's so simple but yet so hard for this team to execute.  Find the Hot Hand From here on out, the Celtics are going to need at least one player to score over 20 points if they want to win games. Whether that be Pierce, Green, KG, whoever; it has to happen if they want to be successful. There are plenty of options on this team that can play with a "score first" mentality that this shouldn't be a problem for Boston. But once again, it all comes down to whether or not they actually do anything about it.  I think that if Boston can capitalize on at least half of these keys, they win tonight. Emotions will be running high in the Garden as I mentioned and that should be enough to keep the guys in green fighting. On the other hand, if they lose tonight...  Consider them done. Follow @MacLean_Tim

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